Collections Research Study and Training

letter from MERL special collectionTo gain more insight into the particular rewards of a Collections-based PhD, please see our short film on graduates' experiences.


The Centre for Collections Based Research offers training, support and meaningful context for all postgraduate students whose research crosses disciplines, engages with material culture, and requires them to collaborate effectively with museum and archive professionals. Training is delivered in two, short intensive weeks -- one in the autumn term and one in the spring term -- and is underpinned throughout their phd experience by online resources and individually tailored support in the form of advice, introductions of all kinds, and access to collections both internally and externally. The training takes place in the rich variety of the University's Museums and Special Collections, and the skilled staff who work with them.


The programme aims to provide postgraduate research students with the research skills required to:

    1. successfully navigate collections-based research environments
    2. develop and answer high-quality research questions informed by multiple methodological approaches including those based in collections
    3. identify and critique both intellectual and institutional practices and boundaries
    4. collaborate effectively with museum and archive professionals as research colleagues


Features of the programme are:

  • immersion in subject-specific collections-based research environments
  • interdisciplinary methodologies, debate and analysis
  • a focus on collections research skills, not on collections management skills
  • a full range of teaching methods including seminars, tutorials, hands-on and online learning, fieldtrips, expert visits, supervision from both faculty and museum and archive professionals
  • public presentation development which will instil research techniques, critical thinking and proficiency with public engagement in a range of academic and institutional arenas


We are currently preparing to offer Summer School and Short Courses: should you be interested in this opportunity, please contact the Programme Director.


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